TitleSelf-collected dried blood spots as a tool for measuring ovarian reserve in young female cancer survivors.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsRoberts, SC, Seav, SM, McDade, TW, Dominick, SA, Gorman, JR, Whitcomb, BW, Su, HI
JournalHuman reproduction (Oxford, England)
Date Published2016 May 11

STUDY QUESTION: Are female young cancer survivors (YCS) able to self-collect high-quality dried blood spots (DBSs) at home to provide biospecimens for studying ovarian reserve? SUMMARY ANSWER: YCS can self-collect high-quality DBS specimens in non-clinical settings, and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels can be assayed in such specimens. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Large-scale biosample collection is a barrier to studying ovarian reserve in YCS. DBS collected by research personnel has high acceptability. AMH levels measured in DBS are highly correlated with those measured by serum-based methods. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: In a prospective cohort study, YCS were recruited to self-collect DBS samples. AMH levels were assayed in 112 samples. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: YCS participants, ages 18-44, were recruited from a nationwide longitudinal cohort and DBS collection materials were posted to them. AMH levels were assayed by the Ansh DBS AMH ELISA and compared according to participant characteristics. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Among 163 potential participants, 123 (75%) were enrolled. Of those enrolled, 112 (91%) were able to complete DBS self-collection and submit mailed samples adequate for measuring AMH. Participants (mean age 31.6 [SD 5.5]) were 85% white, 87% college graduates and 46% reported higher income. Common cancer types were lymphoma and leukemia (34%), breast cancer (30%) and thyroid or skin cancer (8%). The geometric mean (95% confidence interval) AMH level in DBS samples was 0.24 ng/ml (0.16-0.36). In adjusted analysis, AMH levels for survivors of breast cancer (0.02 ng/ml [0.01-0.07]) or leukemia/lymphoma (0.03 ng/ml [0.01-0.08]) were lower than the levels in thyroid or skin cancer survivors (0.12 ng/ml [0.03-0.44]). Pelvic radiation remained associated with lower AMH levels (0.20 ng/ml [0.10-0.40] in unexposed versus 0.02 ng/ml [0.01-0.06] in exposed). Amenorrheic survivors had AMH levels (0.02 ng/ml [0.01-0.06]) that were lower than those of YCS with 7-9 (0.09 ng/ml [0.03-0.32]) or ≥10 (0.17 ng/ml [0.08-0.37]) menstrual periods in the past year. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: The results are generalizable to a population of highly educated, higher income YCS. It is unclear how generalizable the results are to other populations. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Self-collected DBS is a patient-friendly and minimally invasive tool for studying ovarian reserve in geographically diverse populations. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: Research related to the development of this paper was supported by the National Institutes of Health, grants UL1 RR024926 pilot and HD080952-02, and by the American Cancer Society MRSG-08-110-01-CCE. The authors report no competing interests.